Visit the Cham Islands: diving and snorkeling in Vietnam

The Cham Islands in Vietnam are a tropical paradise that is well worth a visit on your tour of Asia. While backpacking in Vietnam, the islands are the perfect tropical paradise for one or even a few days of relaxing on the beach, diving and snorkeling.

How to get to Cham Island: by ferry or speedboat

The Cham Islands in Vietnam are located in front of the popular city of Hoi An. This destination will probably be in your Vietnam itinerary, making it easy to add the Cham Islands as well. There are many boats that take tourists from Hoi An to the Cham Islands. Most of them for a day trip, stopping at all the beaches, some snorkeling at the Vietnam reefs and then taking you back to Hoi An. If you prefer to buy tickets for a daytrip to the Cham Islands in advance, that’s also an option.

Another option is taking the ferry or speedboat from Hoi An. The ferry takes considerably longer than the speedboat – about an hour and a half compared to half an hour.

Cham Islands | backpacking Vietnam | Travel itinerary | The Orange Backpack

The Cham Island villages, beaches and the coral reef

The main island of the Cham Islands – and the one you’re likely to visit – is Hon Lao. This island has a fishing village in the east, Bai Huong, and one in the west where most boats arrive, Bai Lang. You’ll get that Bai Huong will provide a more authentic experience, as it’s further from the tourist boats.

Most tourists will plop down on the white sand beach at Bai Lang. So head for the other beaches if you prefer to have a less touristy experience. Less visited are, for example, Bac Xep, Bai Bim and Bai Bac.

Besides lounging on the beach, diving and snorkeling on Cham Island are the main reasons to come to the archipelago. Almost every tour company in Hoi An offers this activity. The islands are part of the National Marine Park, a protected coral reef in Vietnam. Note that the rainy season might not the best time of the year for that. It’s best to skip the islands during that time of the year.

Cham Islands | backpacking Vietnam | Travel itinerary | The Orange Backpack

Accommodation on Cham Island: homestays and hotels

The islands – or more specifically, the main island of Hon Lao – are well worth spending at least one night. When most of the day trippers are gone, you have the chance to stroll around the quiet island by yourself. Soak up the charming atmosphere, enjoy the most stunning sunset and relax on the empty white sand beaches.

You won’t find large-scale hotels on Hon Lao, but you will find a number of cozy homestays and hotels. The best accommodations on the Cham Islands are:

Cham Islands | backpacking Vietnam | Travel itinerary | The Orange Backpack

Is Cham Island worth visiting?

The Cham Islands are one of the more off the beaten track destinations in Vietnam to visit, although tourism is more and more gaining traction in this bounty paradise as well. Hon Lao is no longer the peaceful fishing oasis it once was, as more and more tourists are finding their way to the Cham Islands in Vietnam.

Tourism is certainly not as large-scale as in other places and islands in Vietnam and Asia, but there are more beautiful islands in Asia to visit. I found the Cham Islands a great escape from backpacking Vietnam, but wouldn’t recommend it as a bucket list destination in itself.

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